An infographic on millennials in the federal government last year. (Office of Personnel Management)
With sagging morale of federal workers one of the biggest challenges in government, a key group that’s the foundation of the future workforce is shrinking: millennials. A new survey by the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service on the challenges to managing talent in government shows that the numbers of employees under age 30 are at their lowest levels since 2005.
This group now makes up just 6.6 percent of the federal workforce, down from 9.1 percent in 2010, a drop of more than 45,000 people, the Partnership found. Employees under age 25 dropped from an already low 2 percent five years ago to 0.9 percent this year. If you look at the entire U.S. workforce, 23.5 percent are under 30 years old, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“The greatest challenge for federal agencies is recruiting and retaining younger employees, those who represent the foundation of the workforce in the years ahead,” the partnership said in its study, “Improving the Employee Experience,” released this month with Deloitte Consulting.
The study found that once they land a job in government, many employees believe their career development is shifted to a slow track, with minimal recognition from their bosses, shrinking opportunities for training and few assignments that really harness their talent.
Millennials also don’t view government as a permanent career the way older generations did. But surveys find that they do like public service. Several obstacles are in the way of government keeping them for at least a chunk of their careers, among them the slow hiring process and a series of internship programs that, despite a revamp last year, haven’t been working as effectively as they could.
The White House is responding to these alarms and is working with federal agencies to improve what’s known in bureaucratic jargon as “employee engagement.” We’ll have more for you in coming weeks on what some agencies are doing.